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Walter Kaiser. Tough Questions About God and His Actions in the Old Testament.  Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, October, 1st, 2015. 176 pp.

I was first introduced to the author when I was in seminary and I found his books immensely helpful.  So when I saw that Walter Kaiser has written a book on tough questions concerning God in the Old Testament I knew I had to read it.  Over the years there has been a few works concerning the difficulties of the Old Testament written by Christian apologists but this one really got my attention since Kaiser is an Old Testament scholar and a specialist in the field for decades.

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As 2011 comes to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on the last year’s worth of blogging.

I began to consciouly write more better theological essays for Veritas Domain beginning in 2010.  This year, I’ve attempted to continue in the vein begun in 2010 of writing essays concerning the inter-relationship of various theological disciplines, having been shaped by the framework and insight of Cornelius Van Til’s Presuppositional Apologetics and John Frame’s Multiperspectivalism that Christianity alone can account for the unity, diversity and  beautiful inter-relating facets of various academic or theological disciplines (such as hermeneutics, eschatology, Messianic prophecies, apologetics, apologetic tactics and exegesis).   The inter-relationship and the coherence of how all things come together has made me have a deeper desire to stand at awe at God for the coherence of His truth.  It makes me want to worship Him!

I hope to continue further exploration and writing next year.  In contrast with 2010, I think 2011 has been a year where I was more conscious of hermeneutics in what I wrote, and more focused on being driven by exegesis.

Here are the few essays that I’ve attempted to go further indepth than my usual blogging posts, in my exploration for 2012 thus far:

1.) Has the Totality of Jeremiah 50-51 been fulfilled concerning Babylon?— Employing a historical-grammatical hermeneutics while being conscious of lexical meaning of Hebrew terms and extra-biblical history, I’ve tried to argue that the prophecies found in Jeremiah 50-51 demonstrate a future literal Babylon that will be a key player in eschatological events since the prophecied destruction still awaits in history.  This is an application of historical grammatical heremenutics, attention to the Hebrew lexically and history towards the theological subject of eschatology.

2.) Critique of Rob Bell’s Theological Method Behind his Soteriology— The biggest theological scandal of 2011 was Rob Bell’s soteriology (well, besides Harold Camping’s May 21st, 2011 false prophecy I suppose).  I’ve attempted to critique the theological method of Rob Bell behind his soteriology with the consideration of he define (or redefine) terms, how he employ his proof text and his theological precommitments that would shape his hermeneutics (notably, his view of God’s love and “In-and-out” issue).  I am driven here by the realization that one must be conscious not just their soteriology but also there theological methods.

3.) Jesus the Presuppositionalist?  Debating the Issue of Authority (Luke 20:1-8)— Realizing the need for Presuppositional apologetics to be exegetically grounded in the text of Scripture, I’ve attempted to give exegetical support for the tactics of Presuppositional apologetics.  I believe the exegetical support for Presuppositional apologetics is an area that can be furthered advance, and I’ve attempted to look at a passage in the Bible that haven’t recieve much attention of serious exegetes in support of a particular apologetics methodology.  This is one sample chapter from my pre-pre-draft of my thesis (the thesis will look at the entirety of Luke 20, not just eight verses).  I write this in the spirit of hoping to be an exegete hoping it will shape one’s method of apologetics while using a historical grammatical heremeneutics with relevant understanding of Second Temple Judaism informing us what Jesus opponents were like and appreciating more deeply Jesus’ apologetics.

4.) Presuppositional Apologetics, Prophecies Yahweh’s Challenges to False Gods–Not necessarily an essay here, but I have it here because the relationship of Theology Proper (God knowing the future), prophecies and apologetics against other religions is shortly mentioned here.

5.) Thoughts on the Use Testament Use of the Old Testament— Self-explanatory title.

6.) The Use of Psalm 118:24 and Isaiah 8:14 as Messianic Stone Prophecies in Luke 20 in light of Genesis 49 as Antecedent Theology— Use of antecedent theology of Genesis 49  in understanding Psalm 118:24 and Isaiah 8:14 as Messianic prophecies which Jesus used in his apologetics in Luke 20.

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Introduction

Perhaps there is no topic about the Bible that fascinates the curious as fulfilled Bible prophecies.  There is something glorious about seeing what has been written down in the pages of Scripture that finds its fulfillment hundreds or even thousands of years later.  At the same time, questions do arise concerning the mechanics of how biblical prophecies work, such as how the Old Testament relates to the New Testament.  Does the plain reading of certain Old Testament passages hint at Messianic prophecy?  Or is the prophetic nature of these passages known only in light of the New Testament?  John Sailhamer writes, “Put simply, the problem of prophecy and fulfillment is the problem of the relationship of the OT to the NT.”[1]

How one answers the question of the relationship between the Old and the New has implication towards apologetics.  If there is nothing within the original Old Testament context that suggests a passage is a Messianic prophecy, the evidential value of the New Testament citing these texts as prophecies would be weakened.  At the same time, if the historical and grammatical readings of certain Old Testament passages are sufficient within their own original context to establish that they are Messianic prophecies which Jesus later fulfilled, the value of such prophecies would greatly lend its support towards the veracity of the Christian faith.

This paper will take the position that when the New Testament employs Old Testament passages prophetically, the use of these Old Testament passages are consistent with the historical and grammatical hermeneutic.  An important nuance here concerning the “historical” in the historical grammatical hermeneutic is that the interpretation of key terms in any given passage should also be informed by antecedent theology.  Thus, whenever the New Testament identifies an Old Testament passage as prophetic, the prophetic nature of the text can be derived on the basis of its original context simply by employing the historical grammatical method.  Space does not permit a survey of all the New Testament prophetic use of the Old Testament.  As a case study, this paper will explore Jesus’ use of Messianic Stone prophecy in Luke 20.

Method of Study

The first section of this paper will look at Luke 20 to situate Jesus’ use of the Messianic Stone prophecies.  This is followed in the next section with an exegesis of the two Old Testament passages that Jesus used in Luke 20 within each of their original contexts.  These two verses are Psalm 118:25 and Isaiah 8:14.  Then the third section will establish that both Psalm 118:25 and Isaiah 8:14 are Messianic prophecies in light of Genesis 49 as informing antecedent theology.  Relevant exegetical consideration of Genesis 49 will be discussed in this third section of the paper.

Jesus’ use of Stone Prophecies in Luke 20

The general background of Luke 20 is that this was towards the end of Jesus’ ministry, during the last week of His life on earth prior to His crucifixion.  In Luke 20, Jesus was confronted by the Jewish religious leaders who opposed Him.  Wishing to bring Him down, they provoked a series of religious debates with Jesus before the presence of the crowd of people gathering for the Passover in Jerusalem.

The religious leaders’ attacks were in the form of questions.  The first question was concerning Jesus’ authority (20:2).  The second question they threw at Him was concerning whether to pay taxes or not to Caesar (20:21-22).  It is in between these two hostile questions directed at Jesus that Jesus took the time to cite Old Testament Messianic prophecies (20:17-18).  In Luke 20:17-18, Jesus cites Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14.  What both these verses have in common is the word “Stone” in them.  For the purpose of this essay, both of these are referred to as the Messianic Stone prophecies.

The immediate context of Jesus’ use of these two Old Testament passages is situated in the section of Luke 20:9-18.  Here, Jesus told a parable to the people as His primary audience (20:9).  The parable is often called the parable of the wicked servants.  In this parable, Jesus taught the people that the religious leaders were out to kill God’s beloved Son as part of a continuous historical line of prophets sent from God who were persecuted.  The people’s response to this news was one of shock and disbelief.

It is then that Jesus cites Psalm 118:22.  Jesus responded to the horror of the people by saying:  “And while he was looking at them He said, ‘Therefore why is this written, “The Stone which the builders rejected, this one became into head cornerstone?”’” (Luke 20:17).  His comment here after the parable was integral to the parable’s meaning.[2]  Jesus is no longer talking in parable form but speaks plainly.[3]  Luke tells the readers that ὁ δὲ ἐμβλέψας αὐτοῖς (“And while he was looking at them”), which is not mentioned in any other Gospels’ account.[4]  The verb ἐμβλέψας here is an aorist active participle nominative masculine singular of the verb εμβλεπω.  Εμβλεπω has the idea of direct and intense gaze that commands attention, and is mentioned here to the readers to draw attention to Jesus’ following question.[5]  Luke perhaps wants the readers to understand the solemnity of the occasion.[6]

Jesus’ response to the people in Luke 20:17-18 was to vindicate the truth of His claim that the religious leaders will first kill the Messiah and that the religious leaders will then be rejected by God for their murder of God’s Son.  It is significant to note that Jesus presents His evidence in the form of a question:  “Before his shocked audience can recover, Jesus asks them what Psalm 118:22 means.”[7]  Questions are also great formats in apologetics since it actively pushes one’s hearer to interact with one’s evidence and perspective, etc.  The question that Jesus asks begins with a τί, which Johnson suggests should be taken as an interrogative adverb “why,” seeing that this is more “responsive” to the people’s exclamation than the literal “what then is this…”[8]

The evidence that Jesus cited to support His conclusion came from the Scripture.  Jesus’ strong bibliology is indicated here by the fact that He trusted in the authority of the Scriptures as that which will justify His theological claims.  He recites Psalm 118:22 verbatim from the Greek Septuagint.[9]  There are ironies in Jesus citation from Psalm 118:22.  To begin with, it was a psalm of national comfort that now indicts the leaders of Israel.[10]  During Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, a few days prior to this parable being told, the people had earlier cited Psalm 118:26 and attributed to Him as the coming King who comes in the name of the Lord (19:38).[11]  Jesus takes this Psalm and goes four verses prior to their verse to establish the point that the leaders (“builders”) of Israel will be judged.  According to Evans, “There is an additional touch of irony here when it is noted that the religious leaders called themselves the ‘Builders of Israel.’”[12]  The passage paints a severe imagery.  The basis of the severe judgment was because of their relationship to the “Stone.”

Stein believes that “the capstone refers to the head cornerstone that bore the weight and stress of the two walls built upon it.  Its function and importance was like that of a capstone in a cathedral without which the vaulted ceiling would collapse.”[13]  Nolland understand the chief stone a little differently, believing that it “may be a keystone locking into place the stones of an arch or some similarly constructed feature of a building.”[14]  Whether one takes the first view or the second, Nolland admits the “differences of imagery does not affect the final sense.”[15] Jesus here is alluding to the fact that He was the Stone that will be rejected, and rejecting Him will bring about severe consequence.

Jesus does not end with Psalm 118:22.  In verse eighteen Jesus goes on further in speaking about the devastating judgment upon those who reject the Stone.[16]  There are echoes of Isaiah 8:14-15 and Daniel 2:44 here.  According to Godet, “In Isaiah, the Messiah is represented as a consecrated Stone, against which many of the children of Israel shall be broken.”[17]  Isaiah 8:14 paints the “Stone of stumbling” as a trap for “the house of Jacob” and “inhabitants of Jerusalem.”[18]  The verb λικμήσει used here in Luke 20:18 have the idea of crushing and scattering grains in the winnowing process.[19]  It paints an image of those being crushed by the Stone to the point of fine powder.  Instead of the previous image of the Jewish leaders falling on the Stone here it is an imagery of them being crushed by the Stone falling upon them. [20]  The Stone is not just passive, but is active in judging those who reject Him.  The two verses taken together demonstrate that there are two possibilities for those who have rejected Christ: either they fall on this Stone, or the Stone falls on it.[21] There is a lesson here about the Son.  He might not be whom the vinedressers/religious leaders originally made Him out to be, and is no mere victim.  While in verse fourteen the son looks “vulnerable,” here in verse 18-19 one learns that He is an indestructible rock that would crush others.[22]

Evaluating verses seventeen and eighteen together, readers will see that Jesus has gathered Scriptural citations and allusion around the word “Stone.”[23]  He cites it to prove His point that the Messiah will be rejected and also as the source of doom for His enemies.  While Jesus masterfully proved His point, surprisingly Jesus in Luke 20 never took the time to prove that the Stone refers to the Messiah.  He just assumes the referent of the Stone to be the Messiah to begin with.  For modern readers, this sparks a series of questions:  Was Jesus justified in His belief that the Stone in Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14 referred to the Messiah?  Where did Jesus get the idea that the Stone referred to the Messiah from anyways?  And how does one go about justifying that the Stone refers to the Messiah?  Before exploring the justification that the Messiah is the referent for the “Stone” on the basis of antecedent theology, it is important to first consider both Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14 within it’s original context.

Messianic Stone Prophecies in their Original Contexts

Psalm 118:22

According to commentator Leslie Allen, Psalm 118 “was composed as a royal song of thanksgiving for military victory; but it is set in the context of a processional liturgy.”[24]  Psalm 118 is actually part of a series of six Psalms beginning with Psalm 113 through 118 which is known as the Hallel (meaning “praise”) Psalms.[25]  These Psalms would be sung by the Jews as a thanksgiving liturgy during the three major religious holidays: Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacle.  As a processional psalm, it was sang outside the temple gates and continued inside as well.[26]

Commentators have disagreed as to what Psalm 118 as a whole was originally about.  Fred Blumenthal explains the reason underlining this difficulty: “Of the 150 chapters of the Psalms only very few have an introductory heading describing their setting or purpose (e.g. 30:1, 34:1, 51:1-2).  For the vast majority of them, it is left to the reader to explore the different moods, feelings or situations which the author describes or expresses, and which vary from chapter to chapter.”[27]  Commentator Derek Kidner takes Psalm 118 as a picture of the “rescue of Israel at the Exodus, and the eventual journey’s end at Mount Zion.”[28]  Allen takes this to be in references to a Davidic king’s entrance into the city.[29]  Adele Berlin on the other hand, understands Psalm 118 primarily to be a celebration of God’s power of salvation.[30]

How one understand the meaning of Psalm 118 as a whole will shape one’s interpretation of Psalm 118:22 and determine whether it’s a Messianic prophecy or not.  For instance, due to Leslie Allen’s belief that this Psalm as a whole is about a king’s military victory, this has already inclined him not to view verse 22 as Messianic prophecy and makes him susceptible to miss any possible references to the Messiah altogether.  He sees verse 22 as a proverbial saying during the people’s praise of the king:  “To aid their praise they evidently cite a proverb that expresses transition from humiliation to honor, in which a generally discarded Stone became the foundation Stone stabilizing two adjacent walls (cf. Job 38:6; Isa 28:16; Jer 51:26).”[31]  Addressing Allen’s interpretation of verse 22 eventually requires one to address what he believes Psalm 118 as a whole is about.  The view that Psalm 118 is largely about a military victory has its problem, since warfare language does not dominate this Psalm.  If military victory of a king was the main point of this Psalm of praising God, one would expect multiple warfare terminology.  Even with the verses that Allen does interpret as descriptive of a conquering king, it is also possible to interpret these verses as God saving someone from persecution in general rather than a specific military victory.

Berlin’s believes that Psalm 118 is primarily about God’s power of salvation.  This view seems more likely to be the answer than Allen’s view.  The word salvation appears three times (v.14, 15, 21) and the verb “save” appears twice in this Psalm (v.25).  Metaphors of being save is frequently invoked  such as in verse 5, “The LORD answered me and set me in a large place,” verse 7, “The LORD is for me among those who help me,” verse 9, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD…”, v.13, “The LORD helped me,” etc.

Understanding the Psalm as about God’s power of salvation allows a better outline of the Psalm that respects its organic unity:

Call for Thanksgiving in light of God’s everlasting lovingkindness (v.1-4)

The LORD is a better Savior (v.5-9)

The LORD is a Savior against the nations (v.10-14)

The LORD is a Savior against death (v.15-18)

The LORD is a Justifying Savior (v.19-21)

The LORD is a rejected but precious Savior (v.22-29)

Evaluating Psalms 118:22 within its immediate context, the verse begins the section of the LORD as a rejected Savior.  In fact, the rest of the section seems to give prominence to the events described in verse 22.   The verse talks about a Stone being rejected by the builders.  While rejected by the builders, the second half of verse 22 further describes this Stone then becoming the chief cornerstone.  Verses 23-24 continues its focus on the Stone prophecy of verse 22, as indicated in verse 23 when the subject is the pronoun זֹּאת meaning “this,” that is referring back to the previous verse about what has happened to the Stone.  Verse 23 describes how this rejection and exalting of the Stone is done by the LORD.  The response from the Psalmist to this truth is stated in the second half of verse 23, that this “was marvelous in our eyes.”  The first line of verse 24 again informs the reader that this rejection and exaltation of the Stone was done by the LORD, a repetition to emphasize that this fact is important.  In the second line of verse 24, two verbs appear back to back:  נָגִילָה, which is a Qal imperfect first common plural verb of גִילָ “rejoice,” and נִשְׂמְחָה which is also a Qal imperfect first common plural verb, coming from the root שָׂמַח meaning “rejoice.”  Both verbs here are functioning as cohortative and understood as “Let us…”  What we should rejoice in is described as בֹו  (“in it”) with the “it” understood as the event in verse 22 of the Messianic Stone rejected and then raise to prominence.

It seems that whoever the referent of the Stone is, the topic of the Stone is important and out of it flows the remainder of the Psalmist praise to God (118:25-29).  Looking at verse 22 again, the Hebrew word for Stone here is אֶבֶן.  Here in verse 22,אֶבֶן is mentioned first with the order of object–> verb.  This breaks the typical Hebrew syntax of verb–> subject–>object.  אֶבֶן then is in an emphatic position, which the author placed there in order to stress the importance of the Stone.

Who is this Stone?  Whoever this Stone is, Psalm 118:22 predicts that this individual will be rejected and then accepted.  The verses that follows after verse 22 also teaches that this is the work of the LORD and that it is something to praise God about.  It seems that an understanding of this Stone prophecy requires further Old Testament background in order to know what this term is referring to.  The syntax of Psalm 118:22 emphasizes the term “Stone,” and perhaps this is calling attention to the reader’s previous background and familiarization with this title.  If this term is a reference to the Messiah, it is marvelous to consider the providence of God.  During the Jewish procession to the Temple, Psalm 118:22-24 was what the Jews prayed to God right before they entered into the temple area itself.[32]  It is as if God has providentially allowed the Jews to remember the Messiah and sing about the Messiah right before they went into the Temple.

          Isaiah 8:14

Unlike Jesus’ use of Psalm 118:22 in Luke 20, Jesus does not quote verbatim Isaiah 8:14 but instead makes strong allusions to this text in Luke 20:18.  Luke 20:18 states, “Everyone who falls on that Stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust” (NASB).  Turning to Isaiah 8:14, it states, “Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a Stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, and a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”  Both passages give references to (1) the Stone, (2) the Stone potential of striking someone and (3) the Stone as something that will cause others to fall.

The chapter context of Isaiah 8:14 must be taken into consideration.  David W. Pao and Eckhard J. Schnabel write, “In Isaiah 8 the nation is threatened with invasion by Syria and northern Israel, a crisis that prompted Isaiah to challenge the people to fear not conspiracy and invasion, but Yahweh.”[33]  The immediate context of Isaiah 8:14 is the paragraph beginning in verse 11 and ending in verse 15.  This paragraph must be seen as logically separate from Isaiah 8:16 onwards, since verses 16-23 makes a radical break from verses 11-15.[34]  Verse 11 declares what the LORD has said to Isaiah for the people, and the manner in which God says it.  From verse 12 onwards in this paragraph, the verbs now become plural, indicating that the words are now for the people from God directly.[35]  In verse 13, God calls His people to fear the LORD, though the people had a lot of fear going on in their midst of invading nations.  God wants them to direct their fear Godward, and have a theological awareness of the LORD.[36]  It is a reverential fear of Him that God wants.

Then in verse 14, Isaiah writes in the first half of the verse about the consequences for those who fear Him.  Oswalt comments, “To those who sanctify him, who give him a place of importance in their lives, who seek to allow his character to be duplicated in them, he becomes a sanctuary, a place of refuge and peace.”[37]  Moyter notes that the term sanctuary is not so much an asylum as it is a “holy place.”[38]  The second half of verse 14 also warns the reader about the devastating consequences of those who do not fear the LORD.  In his commentary on this verse, Edward J. Young writes, “To those in both the north and south God will be a Stone; to some a sanctuary, but to others a Stone of stumbling.”[39]  While in the English NASB the second half of verse 14 begins with, “But to both the houses of Israel, a Stone to strike…”, in the Hebrew the second portion of verse fourteen begin with “A Stone of stumbling and a falling rock…”  Like Psalm 118:22, the word Stone, אֶבֶן, as the direct object appears prior to the subject which is contrary to traditional Hebrew syntax.  The word Stone, and what it does, is in the emphatic, attention to the importance of the Stone.  This Stone will apparently cause devastating consequences upon those who were to stumble over it or having the Stone fallen upon them.

It is important to realize that this Stone is a title for a person and not just an inanimate object.  Isaiah actually talks more about the Stone later in Isaiah 28:16.  Here in this context, the LORD sends Isaiah to rebuke the ruling elite in Jerusalem (Isaiah 28:14).  In verse 16, God informs the leaders that He was going to lay in Zion a tested Stone.  Those who trust “in it will not be disturbed.”  It would be idolatrous for God to call man to trust in an inanimate creation of God.  It must therefore be a person, and specifically a Divine person in order for it not to be idolatry.  The next logical question would be whether Isaiah and his readers have any previous theological knowledge from Scripture that anticipates or is foundational for Isaiah’s discussion of this Divine Living Stone?

Messianic Stone Prophecies in light of Genesis 49 as Antecedent Theology

People do not typically think of the book of Genesis as a book that contains prophecy.  Typically, people think of Genesis largely as a work of narrative.  However, it seems that Genesis does make some prophetic pronouncement, and Genesis 49 is an important chapter that serves as the antecedent theology for the Messianic Stone prophecies.

Genesis 49 takes place towards the end of Jacob’s life.  Here in this chapter “the patriarch calls for the gathering of the ‘sons of Jacob’ for his official blessing (vv. 1-2), presumably pronounced from his deathbed (48:2, 21; 49:33).”[40]  According to Allen Ross, “Jacob, in faith and as God’s covenantal instrument, looked forward to the conquest and settlement of Israel in the land of Canaan, and then beyond to a more glorious age.”[41]

The prophetic nature of Genesis 49 can be gleamed from details within the chapter and also at a larger macro-structural level.  By the macro-structural level, what is meant is the analysis of the book of Genesis and the Pentateuch as a whole, while paying attention to the transition between the genre of narrative, poetry and epilogue summary.  John Sailhammer explains:

A close study of the author’s use of narrative and poetic texts, however, sheds considerable light on the final shape of the work.  The technique of using a poetic speech and a short epilogue to conclude a narrative is well known in Biblical literature and occurs frequently within recognizable segment of the Pentateuch itself.[42]

Genesis 49 happens to be one of the three poetic chapters in the Pentateuch that Sailhamer has identified as major structural juncture in which a prophetic discourse follow a large unit of narrative.[43]  The other two chapters are Number 24 and Deuteronomy 31.[44]  Sailhamer explains how, “In each of the three segments, the central narrative figure (Jacob, Balaam, Moses) calls an audience together (imperative: Gen. 49:1; Num 24:14; Deut 31:29) in the ‘end of days’ (Genesis 49:1; Num 24:14; Deut 31:29).”[45]  The phrase “end of days” is important in understanding Genesis 49 and the other two major structural juncture of the Pentateuch.  Seeing that this prophetic formula appears not only in Genesis 49 but in two other prophetic chapters in the Pentateuch reinforces the position that Genesis 49 contains prophecies.  Sailhamer goes on to say,

To summarize what appears to be the overall strategy of the author in these three segments, we might say that one of the central concerns lying behind the final shape of the Pentateuch is an attempt to uncover an inherent relationship between the past and the future.  That which happened to God’s people in the past portends events that still lie in the future.  Or, to say it another way, the past is the seen as a lesson of the future.[46]

This narrative–>Prophetic poetry–>Epilogue pattern is the ground for why readers are justified in looking for typology in the Pentateuch.  But within the details of the chapter, Genesis 49 also has a prophetic tone to it as indicated by verse 1, with the use of “listen” such as parallel with Isaiah 48:14 use of “listen” prophetically, and as it was mentioned above, the idiom “in days to come.”[47]

In this chapter, there are titles of the Messiah that first appear in Scripture which sets the precedence for the Messiah to be called by various titles.  For instance, the section in Genesis 49:8-12 is devoted to Judah.  Since the Messiah would come from the line of Judah, in verse 9, Judah is described as a lion, which sets the precedence for the Messiah to be called the Lion of Judah in extra-biblical literature (Gen. Rab 98.7, Ezra 11:37; 12:31) and in the New Testament (Revelation 5:5).[48]  John Calvin has noted that the phrase “the scepter will not depart from Judah” in verse ten refers to dominion.[49]  It is a terminology that symbolizes monarchy.[50]  What is fascinating about this prophetic pronouncement about Judah’s heir will include a king is that this occurs hundreds of years before Israel had any kings in office.

It is in Joseph’s section of Jacob’s blessing in verses 22 through 26, that the Messianic title “Stone” first makes its appearance in Scripture.  In context, the Joseph’s section gives an oracle of how Joseph’s two tribes will experience military victory.  Here in this section, there are references to Judah again, in verses 24.  Specifically, the reason why Joseph’s bow would remain firm and his arms will be agile is because of “the mighty One of Jacob.”  The preposition מִ indicates the source of Joseph’s prowess.  The verse goes on to describe how Jacob’s tribe will be the source of one who is the “Shepherd” and the “Stone of Israel.”  Allan Ross comments how there are wonderful titles of God here: the Mighty One of Jacob, the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel, your father’s God and the Almighty.[51]  What is fascinating is that these titles are also given to the Mighty one who is to come from Judah’s line.  In the same way that verse 24-25 is the antecedent theology for future Scriptural use of the title “Shepherd” for the Messiah, the title of the Messiah as “Stone” finds it antecedent here.  It is marvelous to see that while Biblical Hebrew have several terms for “stone” or “rock,” in the case of the Messianic Stone prophecies of Genesis 49:24, Psalm 118:24, Isaiah 8:14 and 28:16, the consistent Hebrew word for stone is אֶבֶן.[52]  The word אֶבֶן refers to natural and precious stone.[53]  It is a fitting title for the Messiah, which Isaiah 28:16 specifically describe as precious.  For those who know the Messiah, He is indeed someone valuable and precious.  For those that do not know the Messiah, the Messianic Stone prophecies have made it clear what the dire consequences look like.

Bibliography

Allen, Leslie. Psalm 101-150.  World Biblical Commentary.  59 Volumes.  Edited by David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Dallas: Word Books Publishers, 2002.

Baron,David. Types, Psalms and Prophecies.  London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1907.

Berlin, Adele.  “Psalm 118 Critical Notes.” In Journal of Biblical Literature 96, no. 4 (December, 1977): 567-568.

Blumenthal, Fred. “Psalm 118.” Jewish Bible Quarterly 39, no. 2 (April-June 2011): 115-117.

Bock, Darrell L. Luke Volume 2: 9:51-24:53. BECNT. 12 Volumes. Edited by Donald A. Hagner and I. Howard Marshall. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996.

Calvin, John. Genesis.  Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2001.

Evans, Craig.  Luke.  New International Biblical Commmentary.  18 volumes.  Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1990.

Godet, Frederic Louis. Commentary on Luke.  Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1981.

Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke.  The New International Commentary on the New Testament. 18 Volumes. Edited by Gordon D. Fee. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997.

Kidner, Derek. Psalm 73-150.  London: Intervarsity Press, 1975.

Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Gospel of Luke.  Sacra Pagina.  18 Volumes.  Edited by Daniel J. Harrington.  Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1991.

Lenski, R.C.H The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel.  Columbus, Ohio: The Wartburg Press, 1946.

Matthews, Kevin A. Genesis 11:27-50:26.  New American Commentary.  Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2005.

Marshall, I. Howard. The Gosepl of Luke. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Edited by Donald A. Hagner and I. Howard Marshall. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978.

Moyter, J. Alec.  The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, Illinois:  Intervarsity Press, 1993.

Nolland, John. Luke 18:35-24:53World Biblical Commentary.  59 Volumes.  Edited by David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Dallas: Word Books Publishers, 1993.

Oswalt, John N.  The Book of Isaiah Chapters 1-39. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament.  Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing House, 1986.

Pao, David W. and Eckhard J. Schnabel. “Luke.”  In Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament.  Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.

Ross, Allen P. “Genesis.”  In The Bible Knowledge Commentary.  Colorado Springs, Colorado: Victor, 2005.

Sailhamer, John H. “The Canonical Approach to the OT: It’s Effect on Understanding Prophecy.” Journal of Evangelical Theological Society 30, no. 3 (September 1987): 307-315.

Stein, Robert H. Luke. The New American Commentary.  Edited by David Dockery.  Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1992.

Young, Edward J. The Book of Isaiah: The English Text, With Introduction, Exposition and Notes Volume 1: Chapters 1 to 18.  Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974.


[1] John Sailhamer, “The Canonical Approach to the OT: Its Effect on Understanding Prophecy,” Journal of Evangelical Theological Society 30, no. 3 (September 1987), 307.

[2] Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 2: 9:51-24:53, BECNT, 12 vols., edited by Moises Silva, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996),1602.

[3] R.C.H Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, (Columbus, Ohio: The Wartburg Press, 1946), 982.

[4] Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke,  Sacra Pagina, 18 vol., edited by Daniel J. Harrington, (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1991), 306.

                [5] Ibid.

[6] I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke. The New International Greek Testament Commentary, edited by Donald A. Hagner and I. Howard Marshall, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), 732.

[7] Craig Evans, Luke, New International Biblical Commentary (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1990), 299.

[8] Johnson, The Gospel of Luke, 306.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Bock, Luke Volume 2, 1603.

                [11] Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, 982-983.

                [12] Evans, Luke, 299.

                [13] Robert H. Stein, Luke, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 493.

[14] John Nolland, Luke, World Biblical Commentary (Dallas, Texas: Word Books Publishers, 1993), 953.

                [15] Ibid.

                [16] Stein, Luke, 493.

                [17] Frederic Louis Godet, Commentary on Luke, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1981), 433.

                [18] Johnson, The Gospel of Luke, 306.

[19] Ibid.

                [20] Stein, Luke, 493.

                [21] Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, 984.

                [22] Nolland, Luke, 954.

[23] Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke,  The New International Commentary on the New Testament, 18 vols., edited by Gordon Fee, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), 709.

[24] Leslie Allen, Psalm 101-150, World Biblical Commentary (Dallas, Texas: Word Books Publishers, 2002), 165.

[25] David Baron, Types, Psalms and Prophecies, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1907), 269.

[26] Allen, Psalm 101-150, 165.

[27] Fred Blumenthal, “Psalm 118,” Jewish Bible Quarterly 39, no. 2 (April-June 2011), 115.

[28] Derek Kidner, Psalm 73-150, (London: Intervarsity Press, 1975), 412.

[29] Allen, Psalm 101-150, 163-167.

[30] Adele Berlin, “Psalm 118 Critical Notes,” Journal of Biblical Literature 96, no. 4 (December, 1977), 567.

[31] Allen, Psalm 101-150, 167.

[32] Blumenthal, “Psalm 118,” 117.

[33] David W. Pao and Eckhard J. Schnabel, “Luke,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 362.

[34] John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah Chapters 1-39, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing House, 1986), 235.

[35] J. Alec Moyter, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary, (Downers Grove, Illinois:  Intervarsity Press, 1993), 94.

[36] Ibid, 95.

 

[37] Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, 234.

[38] Moyter, The Prophecy of Isaiah, 95

[39] Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah: The English Text, With Introduction, Exposition and Notes Volume 1: Chapters 1 to 18, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), 312.

[40] Kevin A. Matthews, Genesis 11:27-50:26, New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2005), 885.

[41] Allen P. Ross, “Genesis,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Victor, 2005), 98.

[42] Sailhamer, “The Canonical Approach,” 309.

[43] Ibid, 310.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Sailhamer, “The Canonical Approach,” 310.

[46] Sailhamer, “The Canonical Approach,” 311.

[47] Matthews, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 885.

[48] Ibid, 891.

[49] John Calvin, Genesis, (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2001), 367.

[50] Matthews, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 892.

[51] Ross, “Genesis,” 99.

[52] Matthews, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 906.

[53] Ibid.

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The topic of the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament is a fascinating topic.  Scholars disagree with each other when it comes to the question of how the New Testament uses the Old Testament.  Here I offer a summary of what my current position is concerning this topic.

The position that best describe my view is the “Single Meaning, Unified Referents” school.  The advocate of this school that I find myself in most agreement with is Walter Kaiser.  An important reason why I hold to this perspective is due to the position that the Old Testament should have only one meaning from the text.  To flesh out further the position I hold, I will give my answer to the four of the five questions that the Three Views of the New Testament Use of the Old  has for their contributors to answer.  Answering these five orbiting questions might give a better picture of my position.

When it comes to the question of whether or not Sensus Plenior is an appropriate way of explaining the New Testament use of the Old, I would have to say no.  Sensus Plenior is the concept that an Old Testament passage might have a deeper meaning intended by God but not the human author.  One must note that neither the New Testament nor the Old Testament explicitly teach the doctrine of Sensus Plenior.  Sometimes people will cite John 11:49-52, of how the high priest Caiphas prophesied that Jesus would die for the people.  But this passage does not support the doctrine of Sensus Plenior since there are discontinuities between God prophesying through Caiphas and the writers of Scripture.  To begin with, Caiphas’ prophecy was verbal while the Bible communicated through writing.  Caiphas was a nonbeliever and hostile to the Christian faith, while the writers of Scripture were obedient willing vessels of God’s truth.  Furthermore, Caiphas knew what he was saying, and the meaning of his words was not at a loss to him (Note that the text never said he did not understand what he was saying).  Instead of demonstrating Sensus Plenior, John 11:49-52 demonstrates more of God’s sovereign power to be able to speak the truth even through the mouths of hardened sinners who wanted to kill Jesus.  Ultimately, the reason why I reject Sensus Plenior is because it causes an artificial distinction between the human author and Divine author when it comes to the meaning of the text.  This artificial distinction also imply that an Old Testament text might have two meanings, the Divine one and the human one.  Since I believe that a text must have a single meaning, Sensus Plenior is not something I accept.

Concerning the question, “Do the NT writers take into account the context of the passages they cite?” I would say yes, the New Testament authors do quote the Old Testament in ways that are faithful to the original context.  Seeing that Jesus in Luke 20 would debate His religious opponents by appealing to the historical grammatical and contextual setting of Old Testament passages, it seems that these rules are binding upon those who believe and don’t believe.  It is fascinating to note that often times a meaning of something is informed and shape by it’s context (such as when one say, “That’s bad!” depends largely on the context of MTV or a Sunday service).  To lift a quote out of its original context and put a radical new context into its place is to invent new meaning which again goes contrary to the fundamental axiom in hermeneutics that any meaningful statement must have one meaning.  This is not to say that are not any hard passages when the New Testament uses the Old.  Instead of letting the exception be the rule, the majority of the New Testament’s use of the Old is clearly contextual.  It seems better to admit that one does not know why certain particular cases of the NT use of the Old seems to go contrary to the context of the Old Testament, than to tamper with the rule of hermeneutics that allow for more than one meaning of a text.

Concerning the question, “Does the NT writers’ use of Jewish exegetical methods explain the NT use of the OT?” the answer I would give is a yes and no.  Yes in the sense that there are Jewish methods that the writers of the New Testament does use, such as arguments from the lesser to the greater or argument to absurdity, Corporate Solidarity, etc.  But these methods are not unique only to Second Temple Judiasm, since others outside the Second Temple contexts uses them also.  In fact, these “Jewish” methods that the New Testament uses are often times universally binding rules of interpretation or inferences or means of communication, since they are part of the laws of logic or the historical and grammatical hermeneutic.  Concerning the question of whether or not the New Testament uses the “bad” or eccentric hermeneutics from Second Temple Judaism such as Midrashic, Pesha or allegorical reading, I would say no and the burden of proof would be on those who hold otherwise that the New Testament does.  A work that is worthwhile in this regard is David Instone Brewer’s Techniques and Assumptions in Jewish Exegesis Before 70 CE.

Concerning the question, “Are we able to replicate the exegetical and hermeneutical approaches to the OT that we find in the writings of the NT?”, I would say yes.  Since I believe that the New Testament’s use of the Old is compliant with a historical and grammatical hermeneutic and draw inferences from them according to the laws of logic, I do believe that the New Testament’s example is worthy of being emulated by readers of the Bible.

This view will surely shape the methodology I adopt in approaching a passage where the New Testament uses the Old.  Again, it is important to adopt uncompromisingly a historical and grammatical approach.  Walter Kaiser have argued for the importance of antecedent theology, where previous revelation of God up to the point of the time of one’s text should inform one’s interpretation of that passage, particularly when there are certain terms that the Word of God has previously used or defined.  There are times in the past where I read a passage in the New Testament that cite the Old Testament or have strange phrases and titles that at that moment makes little sense.  Over time, I have found in my life that the more background knowledge I have of the Old Testament, the more I am in awe of how it helps informs the meaning of a New Testament passage or the reason for it’s use of an Old Testament citation.  Antecedent theology is an important method in interpreting how the New Testament uses the Old.  I do not believe antecedent theology to be foreign to the historical and grammatical approach, but rather sees it as fulfilling an important function in the “historical” aspect in historical and grammatical approach.

Practically, what this means in terms of methodology is to first do the contextual historical and grammatical exegesis of an Old Testament passage within it’s original setting.  After taking into account the introductory material of the Old Testament book in which the citation comes from, studying the text in the original languages, one then with this information go over to the New Testament and do the same work as well that was done in the Old.  Having the materials studied from the Old as conversation partner in the study of the New use of the Old, one should attempt to figure out what the New Testament is doing in a way that take into account the context of the Old Testament citation.

The view I take is radically different from Peter Enn’s school of thought, which has serious internal inconsistency especially with his denial that the laws of logic are universal (what normative basis then, does he have to adjudicate and evaluate other’s position?).  Bock’s position blurs the line between meaning and significance in a way that it’s unclear whether or not he holds to singular meaning, and thus a problem.  Dr. Thomas’ Inspired Sensus Plenior Application (ISPA) is also internally problematic in that Thomas continiously advocate for a single meaning of a text but then he continiously sneaks in the possibility of a second meaning of a passage.

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This might be the most I would ever talk about the format of a book in any of my reviews. This book was published in 1989 and the thing is, one can tell it was published in 1989. There were several instances while I was reading the book, that it occurred to me how much technological advances has passed the last 22 years in terms of word processors and publishing. In terms of content, the work was great, but the format can be improved for the sake of the readers in terms of each chapters falling under Part I (for example, say the Messianic prophecies themselves) or Part II (consideration of objections) of the book. Those who have read through the earlier editions of Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demand a Verdict (either volume one or two) will remember McDowell’s interesting way of citing a source with a number that correspond to a list of works provided at the end of the book. For one who reads through the footnotes, it can get rather tedious flipping through the end back and forth. The list of source wasn’t arrange alphabetically nor in terms of appearances in the book, and I was rather distracted with the thought of whether or not the order of the list were arbitrary! The book covered the clearer Messianic prophecies. The author does a good job bringing in quotations from commentaries making the argument. There were times in the book, I wish he could have gone more deeper, but I understand that this work was for a popular lay audience. I appreciated Ankerberg’s references to what the early Jews understood about the text, in particular mentioning the Talmud and the Aramaic Targums from time to time. His references to the primary sources and where to find them in standard translations of these sources were gold. Overall, a recommend for those who are interested in Messianic prophecies as apologetics, and simple teases one to get into deeper exegesis of the Old Testament! The appendix by Walter Kaiser concerning his disagreement with Sensor Plenior and Isaiah 7:14 as Messianic prophecies was probably the most technical portion of the book. One also have to read what Kaiser has written elsewhere to get the fuller arguments and perspective (I love how this appendix went back to the traditional endnotes in terms of format). Kaiser’s appendix dealt with things that I thought most readers from the general Christian reading audience would have a hard time tracking, concerning the dating of Jewish kings, and textual emendations. Otherwise, this work was great and I had a great time worshipping the Lord and being in awe of the Messiah as I read it and followed all the scriptural references in it’s context.

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I’m always surprised at how various theological circles would say they practice expository preaching when how they teach seems to suggest otherwise. Sometimes it seems as if some literatures on expository preaching can serve as just cheerleaders for expository preaching rather than explaining the actual mechanics of expositional sermons. Those who are hungry to learn the “how-to” of theologically sound teaching would find Toward an Exegetical Theology helpful.

Walter Kaiser’s book makes the conscious attempt of bridging the gap between the raw work of exegeting the Word of God with the finished product of preaching the Word of God. As a young Seminarian, one of the thing that I regularly think about is how do I make the transition from the analysis of the biblical languages to the next phase of preaching preparation. A crucial element in that transition process is finding the main proposition of the specific passage, a task that can seem easy to some but daunting to others. Personally, the book on page 152 offer the most helpful advice for me in writing out the main proposition: “Thus, it is imperative that each main point (one per paragraph please, unless the scope of our exegesis and message is only one paragraph) avoid the use of the past tense of the verb (a reporting style) and the use of all proper names (with the understandable exception of God’s names).”

A significant portion of the book is devoted to what the author called the Syntactical-Theological Method. Those who are familiar with the historical-grammatical approach should appreciate Kaiser’s nuance interest with syntax. The book’s Syntactical-Theological Method placed a heavy emphasis that the most important key to understanding a particular text is its structure/syntax. Here in the syntax is an essential bridge from the passage to the sermon: the syntactical structure of the text will also serve as the structure/outline of the homiletical message as well.

The second key element in the Syntactical-Theological Method is what the book called “Antecedent theology.” Kaiser was weary of what can be called the “right truth, wrong text” fallacy, and especially of reading future concepts found in later progressive revelation back into an older text of something that was not there and thus doing injustice to the text by preaching Scriptural passage with a common theme in the same fashion. Furthermore, Kaiser was also concern for those who interpret Scripture by any non-Scriptural “analogy of faith”. If there is a need for theological analysis in our preaching and Christians must abide by the principle of Sola Scriptura, Kaiser’s solution to this dilemma is to preach with an “analogy of faith” based upon previous theology from earlier revelation. Here the reader would see Kaiser has put some thought to the proper relationship of biblical theology and expositional preaching, where biblical theology through antecedent doctrines would inform the preacher’s theological analysis of the text.

Other area in the book that might be helpful is part three of the book where Kaiser discusses various literary forms in the Bible and how to preach from them. Concerning prophecy, Kaiser observed how the conditional nature of prophecy should lead preachers to preach two alternatives of judgment and hope. Since narratives can at times be descriptive rather than prescriptive, this would be a good example of where antecedent theology is needed to inform us of how to properly interpret the text. Concerning poetic literary form, the book shares various syntactical cues that expositors should note in order to focus their preaching on what the text really is focused on.

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Some quick thoughts on those who attack proper Biblical hermeneutic:

“All of this introduces difficulties not only for interpreting Scripture, but even for interpreting all the articles currently being written on hermeneutics.  Why should those writers waste so much time trying to communicate the key idea that there is a plurality of meanings which are locked into a hermeneutical circle?  It would seem that these contemporary authors would like to borrow the single meaning and the traditional linear-movement hermeneutic just long enough to establish their own theses.” (Walter Kaiser, Toward An Exegetical Theology, 46-7)

“The best argument for a single-meaning hermeneutic is to be found in observing what happens when it is removed from current conversation or writing.” (Ibid, 47)

Is the hermeneutic attacking THE BIBLE self-refuting against the skeptic’s own writing?

Let this be another tool in your apologetics tool kit.

This is a great argument for a one meaning hermeneutic by arguing from the “impossibility of the contrary”

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